Friday, April 12, 2013

Black Jack's and Thing BBQ

Quest Log No 51 – Black Jack's and Thing BBQ
Huntsville, Madison County

When a BBQ place has a somewhat special, odd, or downright weird name, it can mean either of two things: the owners have to hide their mediocre product behind a flashy name, or the owners are innovative not only in the kitchen, but also with everything else. During my travels through BBQ country, I’ve come across both varieties. There just is no telling from the outside, you have to go in and sample the Q to determine if the name is just icing on the cake, or it is all only smoke and mirrors.

Well, Black Jack's and Thing BBQ is truly some weird name – and I am sure there is a great story behind it. With that name, most people will probably imagine some kind of shack by the road side, next to the burned down grocery and the oily car repair shop. But no, you will find them in a small neat brick building next to a Papa John’s pizza delivery shop, adjacent to a gym and a gas station.
Not very exciting, and the interior is also not very electrifying. Light green walls with a few sparse decorative items, a floor that could use a serious makeover, half a dozen or so wooden tables with wooden chairs, and four of those rustic outdoor bench/table combinations. In a way, this has its own weird charm, but what energy they spent on finding a special name, they did apparently save when it came to interior design choices.
But enough of these rather nonessential things, let’s get to the core of the business – the food.

As usual, I had the pork plate, with slaw and potato salad, and my wife had half a rack of ribs with green beans and baked beans. Together with two cups of sweet tea, we paid a little over twenty-one bucks, which is a very fair deal.
Especially if you take the quality of the food into account.
The pork was very tender and lean, juicy and with a remarkable smoke flavor – very top notch. And the sauce (you have to ask for it, they only have Ketchup and some generic hot sauce on the tables) is nothing short of spectacular. Fruity and yet spicy, without being too hot – just perfectly balanced and very delicious. My wife thinks that there is Curry in it, but I think it is a mixture of different peppers. Be it as it may, I wish they would bottle that stuff and sell it to me.
The potato salad, made with sour crème, was very fresh, but I found it a bit too neutral tasting. More salt and pepper would have made it better, in my mind. My wife on the other hand loved it. I found the cole slaw, made with vinegar, very exciting. It was sour, without the slightest hint of sweetness, with just the right amount of salt and pepper, and very crunchy and fresh.

My wife’s ribs were a lot of meat, to begin with. Not overly fatty, but also not extremely lean, with an average taste. The sides she had, on the other hand, blew her away. The green beans were in her opinion the best she ever had. And the baked beans were totally without sweetness, but came with a spicy aroma instead.

So, does this place with a weird name serve some righteous BBQ? Yes, indeed, they do. And the little twist to abstain from the sweet side and venture into the sour/spicy side of Q is remarkable. As is the name.

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